In this edition of The Journey, we look at the fantasy potential of Minnesota Wild prospect Alex Tuch.
Born in the Syracuse, New York suburb of Baldwinsville, Alex Tuch followed the path to the NHL that has proven to be fruitful for United States born players. After shining for the Syracuse Junior Stars as a 15-year-old with 101 points in 40 games, Tuch was selected to be a member of the United States National Team Development Program in Plymouth, Michigan. The USNTDP has long been the route that many American-born players take to cement themselves as high draft picks by their draft year, and Tuch was no exception.
One of the things that draws players to the USNTDP is that they get to refine their skills playing with and against some of the top-end talent in the country daily. Skating alongside fellow eventual first-round draft picks Sonny Milano and Jack Eichel, Tuch averaged over a point per game in 2013-14 with 64 points in 61 games. Downright dominant at times, the three players all would end up being top-20 picks in the NHL draft in the coming seasons.
Following his strong 13-14 season, Tuch was rated as the 12th-ranked North American skater by Central Scouting. Due to his solid skills and size, Tuch was viewed as a bit of a safe pick, lacking the generational talent that many NHL teams are looking to acquire early in the first round of the NHL draft. Although a low-risk player, the Minnesota Wild were happy to select the young winger with the 18th pick of the 2014 NHL draft, believing in his still considerably high ceiling. Like so many of his NTDP teammates, Tuch decided to forego junior hockey, opting rather for college hockey. After visiting Boston College and quoting that it was his “dream school,” Tuch committed to legendary coach Jerry York and the Eagles.
Tuch’s freshman season at Boston College was an overwhelming success. His 14 goals and 14 assists combined for 28 points, a team high, and earned him All-Rookie Team honors in Hockey East. Midway through BC’s season, Tuch left to participate as a member of the United States 2014-15 World Junior Championship team, where he recorded a goal and an assist in five games as the US finished a disappointing fifth at the tournament. With Tuch returning to Boston following the tournament, the Eagles finished 21-14-3, good for a third place finish in Hockey East, but were defeated by the University of Denver in the NCAA tournament.
Alex returned to Boston College for his sophomore season, no longer the new kid on the block and able to play more of a leadership role for the Eagles. Currently ranked as the second best team in the country, Boston College rely on not only Tuch, but fellow NHL draft picks Ryan Fitzgerald and Colin White to pack the scoring punch. With seven points in the first ten games of his sophomore season, Tuch appears to be building on his strong freshman campaign. He will be a leader for this year USA team at the World Juniors, and should take a step forward as a second year player in the tournament.
From a scouting perspective, Tuch is a rare breed of power forward that has the ability to be a dominant player at the NHL level. At 6’4” and 220 pounds, he is a player that is not afraid to play the body, and plays the possession game that is so valuable in today’s NHL. Although he is not an elite skater, Tuch’s reach and size allow him to stay on the puck in the offensive zone, while opening up space for his linemates. As a pass-first player, many of the New York natives goals come from tight spaces in front of the net. He could be a valuable commodity on the Wild power-play in years to come as he has terrific hand-eye coordination and is masterful at deflecting shots infront of the net.
Fantasy Potential: Tuch is a big-bodied winger that should fulfill a middle-six role at the NHL level. He has drawn comparisions to power forwards Jordan Staal, Blake Wheeler and David Backes, as a player who is physically dominant but still has the offensive ability to make his teammates better and put the puck in the net. He should be upgraded as a fantasy prospect for multi-category leagues that track hits.
Dobber Prospect Rank: 46th ranked offensive prospect in DobberHockey’s Top 215
Fantasy Outlook: B
Pros: Strength, Size, Competitiveness, Leadership
Cons: Skating, Top-End Skill
Anticipated NHL Arrival: It is likely that Tuch will not finshed his four-year career at Boston College. Following his sophomore season at BC, he will likely re-evaluate the college game and could make the NHL jump as a part-time player as soon as the 2016-17 season.
Give Kevin a follow @kleblanchockey for NHL prospect talk and happenings.
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